Martin Luther King’s 90th: a friend remembers

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Prince George Motel, Miami, 1960

Hugh Murray, Civil Rights Movement veteran, Scottboro Boys historian, and my fellow Herbert Aptheker research assistant, marked the 90th anniversary of the King’s birth today (which was actually last Tuesday) with an email to friends. I share it with his permission:

To All,  HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY.  I certainly do not believe King was a saint; few people are. He is memorable because of the courage he showed in standing up when it was difficult, and in the end, standing up against all the forces of the US government. While he was preaching non-violence, the Feds paid various Blacks to join his movement and use violence to discredit King. I think the Feds even supplied the weapons. One such was a civil rights photographer, and recently it was discovered just what he was doing for the Feds to undermine King. There is a reason that many documents relating to the assassinations of JF Kennedy and ML King are still kept from the public. Trump angered the Deep State when he opened some of the material, but eventually Trump caved and kept some materials secret. About murders in 1963 and 1968!? It is not to protect the reputations of Lee Harvey Oswald or James Earl Ray. It is to protect government agencies. Well, as the Scots say, cheerio! Hugh Murray

In summer of 1960 King and others (including Jackie Robinson) trained about two dozen civil rights activists, including Hugh, in the strategy and tactics of non-violent civil disobedience. The sessions were held in the Prince George Motel in Miami. The photo at the head of this post was taken at one of them. Here’s the other side of the room. Hugh’s on the right:

A month after this session Hugh helped integrate a Woolworth’s lunch counter in New Orleans, his home town. Forty years ago he recalled this event and others, including the workshop with King, in “The Struggle for Civil Rights in New Orleans in 1960: Reflections and Recollections.” Here are other pix from long ago:

Jerome Smith, a 21-year-old Hugh Murray, and others integrate Woolworth’s counter during the first New Orleans sit-in. September 9, 1960. Here’s the same scene from a different angle. (Hugh’s third from the right.) Both from

It has been my pleasure to provide a platform for my good friend’s papers over the past fifteen years: Hugh Murray: Independent Scholar. His autobiography will be well worth reading. I pray he’ll get around to writing it.


Murray Rothbard: on my late friend’s lamentable error

“I was sure I was going to predecease him.”

That’s how my friend Father James A. Sadowsky (1923-2012) confirmed the news of the passing of Murray Newton Rothbard (1926–1995) two dozen years ago today.

Picture 1It was after Sunday Mass at St. Agnes. Finishing breakfast with friends in a 42nd Street a coffee shop, I excused myself to call (using a 20th-century pay phone) my wife who, enduring a cold, couldn’t join me in Manhattan that wintry day.

“Father Sadowsky called,” she said. “Murray Rothbard died yesterday.”

It’s now been almost 36 years since the first chat that began my friendship with Murray, which continued through his last dozen years. His writings, illuminated by conversations, formed a major part of my education in economics, history, and politics. His personal influence makes it difficult to make a selection among the many memories.

Reading Man, Economy & State , a project I began on March 22, 1983, inspired me to call him one evening. Barely two months into it, I looked up his number (in a 20th-century phone book) and made bold to use it on May 18 (my diary says): “I got six new [libertarian] leads from him, including a Fordham [University] history professor who lives in Jackson Heights [John McCar­thy] . . . . Rothbard is so easy to talk to and make laugh. . . . Look for­ward to meeting him in the Fall [at the Libertarian Party National Convention].”Image result for murray rothbard

Finishing that stout tome on June 19th marked the end of my political wilderness-wandering to which I had sentenced myself after breaking with Marxism six years earlier. By the time my “Jürgen Habermas’s Critique of Marxism” was published in the Winter 1977/1978 issue Science & Society, a Stalinoid academic journal, I was in the free market camp.  (Its text with corrections and editorial notes is freely available here.) But I didn’t find National Review conservatism sufficiently inspiring.

Less than a year later I was invited to particiapte in Murray’s 1984 seminar on the history of economic thought:

Last Rothbard class was a damning critique of Adam Smith.  Smith has almost no libertarian credentials. Marx can have him. . . . [T]here’s an essay in the latest Libertarian Vanguard that Rothbard wants me to read, and Mark [Brady] is going to copy for me . . . . Murray Rothbard was very friendly again with me after class. He’s busy packing for his move to Stanford CA, so, he says, he’s sorry he couldn’t have invited Gloria and me to dinner. Discussed my Christian libertarian idea with him on the bus. I’m flattered.” (May 4, 1984; unless otherwise marked, dates refer to diary entries.)

I met him for first time at the 1983 Libertarian National Convention at the Sheraton Hotel in New York. (This pic was taken there.) “He re­membered my name,” I recorded, “and when I discussed [Bernard] Lonergan’s economics briefly, he said Lonergan struck him as an ‘institutionalist.’” (September 4, 1983)

Continue reading “Murray Rothbard: on my late friend’s lamentable error”

What kind of Muslim is Wajahat Ali?

Every year around Christmas illiberal “liberals” (aka Progressives) lecture Christians, mostly those of the white conservative persuasion, about the “true meaning” of Jesus and how they obscure it. This year is no different.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez. D-Ill., questions Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as she testifies before the House Judiciary Committee Dec. 20, 2018. The congressman could have benefitted from getting manners for Christmas. Photo: SARAH SILBIGER /NYT / NYTNSRetiring Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) recently shouted at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay at the other side of the border fearing death, fearing hunger, fearing sickness,” he fulminated. “Shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas and allow the secretary to come here and lie!”

He  bolted from the hearing room before she could respond to his slander.

Gutierrez’s rhetoric was on par with his manners: the Roman Empire had impressive walls, but none prevented migration from Judea to Egypt, i.e., from one Roman province to another.

A few days after Gutierrez’s theatrics, the day after Christmas, Gustavo Perez Arriaga—gang-banger, DUI violator, and illegal immigrant—murdered Newman California Police Corporal Ronil Singh, thereby separating his child and wife from him. Permanently.Image result for ronil singh

Arriaga had snuck into the U.S. through Arizona. How many others like him are in the caravan passing through (if you can believe it) Arriaga, Mexico? Is it un-Christian to ask how likely any of them are to make orphans out of American children?

Or are we morally allowed to fixate solely on the tragedy of children whose migrant parents expose them to harm, sometimes fatally?

Wajahat Ali is a Muslim, perhaps the way Gutierrez is a Christian. He’s a Progressive who focuses on combating “hate,” especially “Islamophobia.” Cafeteria-style, he picks out what he likes about Islam and ignores the embarrassing remainder as if they were accidental features of Islam.

Image result for Wajahat AliThat is, Ali provides what William Kirkpatrick calls the “smiley-faced version of Islam which emphasizes the commonalities with Catholicism and leaves out the scary parts.” (“Pope Francis, Indifferentism, and Islamization,” Crisis Magazine, December 31, 2018)

Continue reading “What kind of Muslim is Wajahat Ali?”

Adolf Hitler: Socialist Activist

Going over articles by my friend Hugh Murray, a veteran of the civil rights movementImage result for hugh t. murray, jr (third from the right;  New Orleans lunch counter sit-in, September 9, 1960), I noticed in one of them his elaboration upon an inconvenient (for some) fact of Adolf Hitler’s political trajectory.

Rejected by several journals in the late ’90s, Hugh’s “Affirmative Action and the Nazis: Or: Why Liberals Cannot Understand a Holocaust” at last found a home in 2004.  Here’s the salient passage (lightly edited; my commentary follows):

Turmoil erupted inside Germany.  On New Years 1918-19, the radical Spartacists attempted a coup, but were foiled by soldiers returning from the fronts [of the Great War] who formed into new groups, the Freikorps (free corps). They killed the two Spartacist leaders, Karl Liebknecht and the Jewish Rosa Luxemburg.Karl and Rosa Elsewhere events went in the opposite direction. In the large southern German province of Bavaria a republic was also proclaimed, led by the Jewish journalist Kurt Eisner, then by the Jewish playwright Ernst Toller, and finally by the Jewish Communist Eugen Leviné . Apparently, one of the supporters of this radical Left regime was a young corporal, recently released, who had been gassed in the trenches toward war’s end, Adolf Hitler (far right, seated, with his Bavarian Reserve Infantry comrades).

The television program The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler: [Part] I, The Private Man contains some revealing sequences. [It’s available on YouTube.] I quote from the narration:

With the defeat [of Germany in 1918], revolution broke out across Germany. In Bavaria a revolutionary government was set up. Image result for kurt eisnerThe socialist president Kurt Eisner was shot on the street in [25] February 1919. The people turned out to say farewell. Hitler had returned to his Munich regiment, his only foothold, his only home. He was threatened with demobilization and a return to the hostel. A fellow soldier later remembered that Hitler seemed like a stray dog, searching for a new master. In the funeral procession for the Jewish Socialist Eisner was a detachment from Hitler’s regiment wearing both red armbands and black armbands. The film clip shows a lance corporal marching with the officers—Adolf Hitler. Continue reading “Adolf Hitler: Socialist Activist”